TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
It Started with a Dream
iCook After School all started with two friends (Lesya and Olga) passionate about food, cooking and nutrition, who wanted to make a difference by teaching children how to cook and enjoy healthy meals. In 2014, iCook was started as an after-school cooking program for children at elementary schools in the Chicago area. Lesya and Olga share a philosophy — that food is nourishment, and that learning to cook at an early age is a beneficial skill to carry into adulthood.
While Lesya holds a bachelor of science in finance from DePaul University, her real passion is nutrition. At an early age, she discovered that her body reacted differently to certain foods, and eventually she learned she had a sensitivity to gluten. She became very interested in the science of nutrition and in choosing a diet made up of healthful foods: foods that made her feel good – inside and out. The more she studied and learned about nutrition, the more she realized how helpful it would be to have known this information at an early age. Lesya loves helping children in the kitchen so they can learn to enjoy good food (vegetables, beans and whole grains) and so they can develop a healthy relationship with food right from the start.
Olga holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Dickinson State University and an MBA in finance from the University of North Dakota. She is also a CFP® professional. Olga’s passion is working with children – helping them with reading, cooking and other life skills. In a way, she combines math skills and cooking interests by teaching children how to measure and learn fractions while they prepare delicious, nutritious recipes. She has been volunteering with children for several years with Big Brother Big Sister and at Working in the Schools (WITS), a tutoring and mentoring program focused on helping children with their reading. She left her career in finance to focus all her efforts and time on her passion working with kids and teaching them cooking and nutrition.
After completing her Bachelor's of Education degree from Dublin City University in Ireland, she pursed her athletics career across the Atlantic ocean to become a successful Division 1 track and field/cross country athlete at Bradley university. Here she completed her Master of Arts in Non-profit Leadership. Throughout her teaching days she has witnessed both the positive and negative influences food choices and nutrition can have on a child’s daily life. As an athlete she has also gained invaluable insights in to the importance a balanced diet has on the body. Combining these two life experiences she wanted to make a difference and share her knowledge to educate children. iCook After School is the dream career path where Niamh can ultimately combine her passions of health, well-being and nutrition and educating children. Niamh loves being in the classroom where she provides a platform for a fun, hands-on and exciting experience that encourages exploration and curiosity about all things cuisine.
A transplant in Chicago, Ian Corse was raised on a small organic vegetable farm--an experience that continues to inspire a passion for fresh ingredients. As an advocate for hands-on experiences that incite engagement and exploration, Ian has worked with children of all ages, developing youth programming in a variety of summer camps and after-school activities. He is very excited to be providing the opportunity for kids to discover their own love of food, multicultural cuisine, and culinary adventure!
Lisa Carlson, MS, RDN
Lisa holds a bachelor of science in nutrition from Cornell University and a master of science in nutrition communications from Boston University. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) with a dietetics degree from the Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon. Lisa’s career has led her down several exciting food paths involving cooking, writing, and nutrition communications. Earlier in her career she wrote about food at Glamour magazine and at COOK’S magazine.
Tiffany holds a bachelor of science in kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and is currently earning her master of science in nutrition, also from UIC. She is a Dietetic Intern completing her supervised practice in dietetics and will soon be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Tiffany also works as a certified personal trainer, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of nutrition and exercise to help others live their healthiest life.